Bruwer Vroon, Grace Church, Gisborne
Andrew MacPherson, Grace Presbyterian Church, Tauranga
Logan Hagoort, Covenant Church, Manurewa
Paul Henry, Grace Church, Rotorua
Ian Goodman, South City Reformed Baptist Church, Auckland

Dear New Zealand

It is no secret there is much of Brian Tamaki’s theology and Christian practice that we would disagree with. Yet, we felt compelled to write the following as a show of solidarity with his current plight.

Our aim here is not to air our disagreements with Mr. Tamaki. Rather we stand in solidarity with a religious minister who has been imprisoned, right here in Aotearoa. We recognise there are multiple factors involved, including his specified bail conditions which may have been technically violated. Still, we are in solidarity with his plight because it is troubling that any person in New Zealand would be prohibited from, or imprisoned for appearing at a peaceful public protest.

Avenues for all voices to be heard is part of a healthy democracy. Whenever dissenting voices are systematically silenced – however undesirable we find those voices – we are faced with a diseased democracy at best; and at worst, tyranny. So we write to express our solidarity with Mr. Tamaki. He has been subjected to media and public slander, character misrepresentation, harassment, scorn, and all kinds of malice. And finally, he has been imprisoned for a period of up to 10 days.

We desire Mr. Tamaki’s release to go about his life as the Scriptures commend – “…that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way (1 Timothy 2:2).” We also desire for the wider Christian Church to recognise Mr. Tamaki’s arrest as a warning sign. If powers-that-be have little scruples pursuing a public figure like him, be warned. They would have far less scruples pursuing lesser figures, including other Christian ministers, for any violations they deem ‘anathema’ to their agenda.

The political climate has shifted. The ruling class have changed the rules. The Church no longer holds a position of responsibility and civic influence it once did. Christian doctrines are increasingly unwelcome, including our doctrines of Jesus’ lordship, human flourishing, sexual ethics, marriage, the institution of family, and affirmation of human dignity from conception to the grave.

Public forums, like peaceful assemblies, peaceful protest, and the respectful exchange of ideas in the public square are important. They are healthy for society. We must learn to converse with one another once again, even when we disagree, without corralling one another off to jail cells. Mr. Tamaki may have touched the painted line of his bail conditions, but is jail really the suitable answer for handling political differences (while gangs in NZ face far lesser penalities for public disorder)?

We write in solidarity with a man who dared to speak a point of view not approved by the State. Whatever you think about Mr. Tamaki personally, we ask you to think about the principle of his right to freedom of expression and speech being curtailed in NZ, by the power of the State no less. We hope this registers as a concern to all free-thinking New Zealanders, who love participation in an open and democratic society, without fear of political molestations for deviating from ‘the approved narrative’.

Signatories:

Bruwer Vroon, Grace Church, Gisborne

Andrew MacPherson, Grace Presbyterian Church, Tauranga

Logan Hagoort, Covenant Church, Manurewa

Paul Henry, Grace Church, Rotorua

Ian Goodman, South City Reformed Baptist Church, Auckland

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